Brookfield is incorporated under the provisions of a Town Charter, the State Constitution, and the General Statutes of the State of Connecticut. In 1957, the State Assembly passed the "Home Rule" Act, which allows each town to adopt its own charter to manage the property, government, and affairs of that town. Brookfield adopted its charter in November 1975, and it was revised in November 1977, November 1979, November 1981, November 1987 and November 1993. The Charter states that a commission must be established at least every five years to review, amend, or revise it. State law mandates a Charter Revision Commission must be appointed within 30 days of the filing of a petition with ten percent of the Town's electorate's signatures or when a two-third vote of the Board of Selectmen calls for action to amend the Charter.
Board of Selectmen
Brookfield has a Selectmen-Town Meeting-Board of Finance type of government. The three members of the chief governing body, the Board of Selectmen, are elected in regular biennial Town elections on a partisan basis. There are separate races for First and Second Selectmen. The Third Selectman is the person who receives the third highest number of votes. The party having two members on the Board of Selectmen is the majority party; the other Selectman is from the minority party. The First Selectman is the full-time executive and chief administrative officer of the Town. He or she is an ex-officio member of every board. The legislative authority is vested in the Board of Selectmen, and they are responsible for ordinances, making appointments and filling vacancies on local boards, and calling Town Meetings. The Selectmen meet the first Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall.
Town Meeting is a form of democracy practiced for over 300 years in Connecticut. The location of the meeting is announced in advance. The qualified voters of a town meet to make decisions concerning expenditures, schools, and many other topics. To be qualified to vote on financial questions, a person must be a United States citizen, a registered voter or a Brookfield property owner of at least $1000.00 in value. Each qualified voter has the right to speak to the issue at hand at the Town Meeting and to cast a vote on the issue. The Selectmen carry out the instructions of the Town Meeting.
The annual Town Meeting is held on the first Tuesday in May. The purpose of this meeting is to approve or reject the final draft of the Town budget. The meeting has the power to decrease or delete any appropriation or item in an appropriation, but it may not increase nor add any appropriation not recommended by the Board of Finance.
Board of Finance
The Board of Finance consists of six members elected to four year terms who are not paid a salary. By charter, the First Selectman is a member of this Board but is permitted to vote only to break a tie vote. The Board recommends the annual budget for approval to the Town Meeting, it establishes the mill rate, oversees the financial operation of the Town, and publishes the annual report. Regular meetings of the Board of Finance are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall. Special meetings are held occasionally. Notice of all meetings is posted and meetings are open to the public.
The Town Clerk is elected biennially on a partisan basis. The Clerk is the chief Election Official and as such is responsible for election procedures, registration of new voters, and recording at Town Meetings. The Town Clerk is also the registrar of vital statistics, records, and legal documents such as land transfers and deeds. He or she also issues marriage licenses, burial permits, and dog, kennel, beekeeping and sportsman licenses. Other duties of this office include filing the dates of the Town board meetings, filing survey and subdivision maps, and issuing liquor permits.
Registrars of Voters
Two Registrars of Voters are elected for four year terms; one Registrar is elected for each political party. The Registrars of Voters and the Town Clerk constitute the Board of Admission of Electors, and as such, hold special voter-making sessions during the year. The Registrars are responsible for maintaining and updating the voter list. Their duties also include the appointment of election workers at elections, primaries and referendums, and managing the setting up of polling places on those days.
The Board of Finance is responsible for establishing and maintaining the financial policy of Brookfield. Brookfieldís fiscal year ends on June 30th. Around the middle of February, the Board of Selectmen presents to the Board of Finance the requests from all departments for monies they will need to operate during the coming year. The Board of Finance reviews these requests and sets up meetings with department heads to discuss their budgets. Beginning in March, the Board may afford each agency and department upon request, an opportunity for a hearing.
The Board then tabulates all requests for presentation to a public budget hearing. At this time any person qualified to vote at Town Meeting can express his views on the budget requests. The budget hearing must be held not less than 14 days before the annual Town Meeting. After reviewing the original requests and taking into consideration the input of the voters at the budget hearing, the Board of Finance then determines what the budget should be and submits its recommended budget to the annual Town Meeting which is held on the first Tuesday in May. At the Town Meeting, the voters can accept the entire budget as recommended and can delete or reduce any item, but they cannot make any increases.
All notices of hearings and meetings are publicized in at least one of the local newspapers. Taxes are due on July 1st and January 1st. Assessments are made on all property on record on October 1st of the previous year.
The Treasurer of Brookfield is an elected, salaried official. Any expenditure made by the Treasurer must be authorized by the budget. The Treasurer is responsible for borrowing and investing Town money in as profitable a manner as possible. The decision as to which banks are used is left to the Treasurer. Idle funds are invested. To protect the money and avoid legal risk, legal limitations are imposed as to the type of investment.
The Assessor is an appointed, salaried official who is responsible for the compilation of all taxable property in Brookfield. By State mandate, when a building permit or a Certificate of Occupancy is issued the Assessor must assess the new construction. All Town properties are re-evaluated every five years. The Assessor is also responsible for maintaining and updating the Grand List of Taxable Property. Brookfield has a salaried Controller who is hired by the First Selectman subject to approval by the Board of Selectmen. The Controller is in charge of receipts and disbursements, and like the Treasurer, the Controller is bound by the budget. All purchases are made though the Controller.